#Throwback: Top 10 90s Jams by Latino Artists
Let’s be honest, the 90s had some jams. The decade is considered by many to be the last one categorized by a musical revolution, primarily through the era’s alternative rock boom. It can also be argued that the 90s ushered in a new era of pop music, setting the stage for the kind of music to come decades later. In such a period of musical innovation, it should be no surprise that there was a Latino domination of the industry as several big-name artists began to make themselves household names. Now, we’re counting down some of the best of the best in this list of the Top 10 90s Songs by Latino Artists.
10. “Turn the Beat Around” by Gloria Estefan
Turn the Beat Around” was somewhat of a forgotten disco hit, originated by artist Vicki Sue Robinson in 1976. When Gloria Estefan took on the song, it reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play Chart. “Turn the Beat Around” was the artist’s first number-one song in English to break through the charts, asserting Gloria’s place as a Latina music legend.
9. “Amor Prohibido” by Selena
“Amor Prohibido” is a unique blend of ranchera and hip-hop music, giving the song a one-of-a-kind feel. It’s extremely experimental, taking daring bounds into musical ventures never previously explored. For Latina music icon, Selena, the song isn’t her first hit, but it certainly is one of her strongest. In this decade, the song has almost become synonymous with the late singer.
8. “Bailamos” by Enrique Iglesias
Believe it or not, “Bailamos” is an extremely important piece of music, often being seen as instrumental in the rise of Latino music in the US. The song was originally released in Latin America and certain parts of Europe, earning the praise of American actor, Will Smith. Smith asked Iglesias to put “Bailamos” in his upcoming movie, Wild Wild West and the rest is history. “Bailamos” quickly rose in the US charts, reaching #1 for the pop charts and earning Iglesias a new record deal.
7. “Macarena” by Los del Río
Your mom knew the dance moves, it was always played at middle school dances, and the 1996 Democratic National Convention attendees got down during it. Yes, the “Macarena” is an easy target to make fun of these days, but there’s no denying the massive popularity of the song in the 90s. Upon release, the Spanish dance song became a smash hit, becoming the go-to dance song for weddings, sporting events, and parties of the like. It even reached #1 on Billboard’s All Time Latin Songs, topped the dance charts and became one of six foreign language songs to reach number 1 on the charts. The “Macarena” wasn’t a hit, it was era-defining.
6. “Maria Maria” by Santana
Choosing Santana’s “Smooth” and “Maria Maria” was a hard choice but it all came down to one factor: staying power. Both songs were fabulous additions to the already impressive catalog of songs from Latino music superstar, Santana. “Maria Maria” earned him another Grammy, this time for Best Pop Performance by a Duo. In addition, the song reached number one globally, staying atop the Billboard Hot 100 for 10 weeks. When Billboard created its list of All-Time Hot 100 Top Songs, “Maria Maria” ranked in at #96. On the Hot 100 Latin Songs of All Time, the song ranks #2. In 2017, DJ Khaled heavily sampled the song for his “Wild Thoughts” single with Rihanna, proving the 1999 hit’s insane staying power.
5. “I Need to Know” by Mark Anthony
When you think of Marc Anthony, you think of “I Need to Know.” The 1999 smash-hit is a unique hybrid of multiple genres including R&B and Latin music. “I Need to Know” earned Anthony a Grammy nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and a win at the Latin Grammys for Song of the Year. Even the Spanish translation of the song, “Dímelo,” saw chart success, peaking at number one on Billboard Hot Latin songs chart.
4. “Waiting for Tonight” by Jennifer Lopez
Although “Waiting for Tonight” isn’t a J-Lo original, she certainly made the song her own, crafting the rare cover piece that’s actually better than the original. Lopez reimagined 3rd Party’s Europop song to a Latin House bop, a change that resulted in the song’s immediate success. To many, it’s Lopez’s defining musical achievement, topping the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart and earning Jennifer a Grammy Nomination for Best Dance Recording. On the smaller scale, it won Best Dance Video at the MTV Music Awards.
3. “Vision of Love” by Mariah Carey
Oh, Mariah Carey, where would we be without you? “Vision of Love” was the iconic artist’s debut single from her 1990 self-titled album. The Afro-Cuban singer rose to fame with this song, showing off her impressive vocal range (don’t believe us? Check out what a “whistle register” is.) Critics loved it, citing the artist’s raw singing talent and wide vocal range. Rolling Stone went on to say that the song popularized the use of melisma in popular music, a trend that still echoes today. The influence of “Vision of Love” can’t be overstated, serving as the influencer for countless female singers to come.
2. “Genie in a Bottle” by Christina Aguilera
Ok, I’ll be the first to admit my strong bias for Xtina and the 90s “Teen Pop” crew, but there’s no denying the massive pop culture success of 1999s “Genie in a Bottle.” We already knew Christina could sing due to her early years on the Mickey Mouse Club (yes, that is a young Britney Spears as her back-up dancer), but with “Genie in a Bottle” she proved her staying power. The 18-year-old managed to astonish critics with her vocals and the song’s catchy hook made this an obvious hit. “Genie in a Bottle” peaked the charts in over 20 countries, topping the US’ Billboard Hot 100, and becoming certified platinum by the RIAA for selling over 1.4 million copies. We knew Christina the Mouseketeer, but “Genie in a Bottle” introduced us to Christina the Pop Icon.
1. “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin
Come on, everyone knows this song and before you deny it, we know you’ve jammed out to it. “Livin’ la Vida Loca” was Ricky Martin’s 1999 number-one hit from his self-titled debut album. The song has actually been linked to starting the Latin pop boom that took place in the late 90s and early 2000s, allowing other Spanish speaking artists like Shakira, Marc Anthony, and Enrique Iglesias to break out into the industry. “Livin’ la Vida Loca” has cemented its place as one of the best selling singles of all time, boasting an impressive 8 million copies. It earned Martin several Grammy nominations and remains a pop culture icon to this day.
Do you agree with our list? Which song is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!